Punch Hand Puppet

He has been known as Pickle Herring, Hanswurst, Kasperle, Polichinelle and Punchinello. Beloved and persecuted in a dozen countries, he has been up to his wicked tricks for hundreds of years and is not likely to stop now, although he might change his name every hundred years or so. Here he is, complete with his poor family and enemies (he has no friends) and his play. Don't be too hard on him for his many sins; after all, he's only a puppet.

"Do you know, then, what Polichinelle is? He is the good sense of the people, the brisk sally, the irrepressible laughter. Yes, Polichinelle will laugh and sing as long as the world contains vices, follies and things to ridicule. You see very well that Polichinelle is not near his death. Polichinelle is immortal." CHARLES MAGNIN

Punch Hand Puppet
1

Modeling in Plasticine
Before we can overcast Punch's head in papier-mache, we must make a model of plasticine, a re-usable plastic modeling clay available at all art stores. For modeling tools use professional tools or anything handy - spoons, knives, orange sticks. A pound of plasticine will last you through many, many puppets. Make a ball approximately the size of the head you will make, attach a neck and jamb the whole thing down onto a working spindle. Make sure you have the features in balance on the head by beginning with guide lines to indicate the position of the nose and the line of the eyes. Model the features roughly at first, adding clay where needed, then refine your work. Avoid details such as hair texture and wrinkles, as they will be lost in the overcasting and can be added later. Remember too that many details can be painted on.

Modeling in
Plasticine

Overcasting in Papier-Mache
Prepare the flour paste as you did for quick papier-mache. You can add a drop of formaldehyde to drive away any insects that might want to eat your puppets. CAUTION: formaldehyde is poisonous; do not mix your paste in eating or cooking vessels. Prepare strips of newspaper as you did for quick papier-mache. Cover the plasticine head with a very thin coat of vaseline or butter. Lay on the saturated strips carefully, criss-crossing them for strength and making sure the head is completely covered with each coat. Put on at least four coats. More than five will probably obscure the details of the model. You can accentuate features by pinching the papier-mache shell out a little here and there. You can also add features, such as ears, by building out with wads of the saturated paper and securing these in place with more strips. Use smaller bits for difficult places, such as the tip of the nose and the lips. Dip your fingers in water and lightly smooth down the last coat, making sure there are no air bubbles or unwanted wrinkles. Dry thoroughly in the sun (48 hours at least) or with a mild artificial heat. Then with a sharp razor blade cut through the shell into the plasticine along the line shown in the diagram, page 40. When the features are not so prominent as Punch's beak nose, you can cut the shell in half sideways, along a line going through each ear. Complete the halving of the head, with a sharp knife, working it carefully down through the clay so as not to crumble the edges of the paper shell. Carefully remove the two halves of the plasticine model from the two halves of the shell, using a dull knife as gouge.

Overcasting in Papier-Mache

Allow the shell halves to dry (do not use artificial heat), and then glue them back together to form the hollow head. There will be some warping, and the edges of the shell may not match perfectly. The seam can be smoothed with the addition of more strips of papier-mache. The bottom of the neck and any small bubbles and unwanted wrinkles can be smoothed down with a razor blade or fine sand paper. Glue a neck tube inside the neck, paint with poster paints or oils, and Punch is ready for his stocking cap and little hump-backed body. His club should be padded with cloth or made of rubber or styrofoam to save damage to the other puppets, his dear family and dear enemies.